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Bauhaus movement and its influence on modern art and design

Modern art was shaped through various avant-garde art styles of the 20th century. Many such art and design genres were energetic abstracts and Subconscious-Based Surrealism predominant in the artworks; however, Bauhaus movement circumscribed a wide range of materials, mediums and disciplines (James-Chakraborty and Kriebel).

In the 1920s and the 1930s, Bauhaus art influenced many channels of experimental European design, art and architecture, ranging from graphics and paintings to interiors and architecture. Although the movement started in Germany by Architect Walter Gropius, it inspired and attracted artists, designers and architects from everywhere (MacCarthy). Its influence today can be observed in artworks and designs across the world.

Through textiles, industrial design, and interior design, this exhibition will examine women's expanding participation and major achievements as designers. 

- Historical movement 3:Arts and Crafts

- Title of work: Psalterium

 - Artist/designer:May Morris & Jenny Morris

- Date of creation: 1880s - 1890s

- Medium:silks, gold thread on indigo linen(embroidery)                            

 - Design style: textile

  1. Historical Context: The Arts and Crafts movement started as a response to the social changes inflicted by the Industrial Revolution. The founders of the movement were disenchanted and disappointed by the mechanized and impersonal direction taken by the 19th century society (Penick, Long, and Center). The movement emerged around 1860 in United Kingdom and spread across the United States in 1890s.
  2. Visual Analysis: The book bag is made of indigo linen and embroidered with gold thread. The dark hue of indigo has presented a background for the golden threads of the embroidery to stand out. The embroidery is done by Jenny Morris and she included the word “Psalterium”, embroidered in Gothic Script (The Brooklyn Refinery). The stitches used were stem stitch, back stitch, loop stitch, long and short stitch, stain stitch, buttonhole and couching stitch.
  3. Thematic Elements: The patrons and the practitioners of Arts and Crafts movement believed that a strong relationship shaped between the artwork and the artist was the basis of producing beautiful items and works that will be used on a daily basis and the emotional fulfillment of the creators and users (Penick, Long, and Center). The movement began as a protest against the mechanization of the society.
  4. Cultural Significance: The Arts and Crafts movement was ignited by the Great Exhibition of 1851 where manufactured items were displayed that had no chief functionality. One of the first practitioners of the movement was William Morris who along with similar minded artists established Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. specializing in natural imagery featured in wallpaper designs (Edwards). May and Jane Morris were the daughters of William Morris, and both followed their father’s footsteps.
  5. Design Example #2

- Historical movement 2: Art Nouveau

- Title of work: Dragonfly Lamp

- Artist/designer: Clara Driscoll

- Date of creation: 1907

- Medium: bronze and glass

- Design style: industrial

- Dimensions: 25 3/4 x 20 1/2 x 20 1/2 inches (Kirkland Museum)

  1. Historical Context: Art Nouveau is an ornamental style that flourished in the late 19th century and early 20th The style of Art Nouveau is distinguished by the use of sinuous, long organic lines that can be seen in many jewelry designs, interior works, architecture, door frames, balustrades and glass designs (Ivashko et al.). The movement sought an escape from the eclectic styles of the past and aimed at modern and elegant forms of design.
  2. Visual Analysis: The lamp shade depicts dragonflies designed in colored glass, vertically circling the shade. The stand of the lamp is made of bronze and the shad is made of colored glass.
  3. Thematic Elements: Art Nouveau movement was a refreshing new style, devoid of the imitative designs of the past that dominated most design and art of the 19th The movement sprung in Belgium and spread across other European countries like France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Spain (Warren).
  4. Cultural significance: During the period between 17th and 19th century, it was believed that artworks, paintings and sculptures were much superior works as compared to ironwork, glasswork or furniture design. This belief was overturned by the artists of Art Nouveau who began aspiring and coining the phrase “total works of the arts” that inspired many famous interiors and buildings like Hotel Tassel.
  5. Design Example #3

-Historical movement 1: Bauhaus

- Title of work: Chair MR 20 Weißenhof-Chair

- Artist/designer: Lilly Reich and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

- Date of creation: 1927

- Medium: steel

- Design style: textile/interior design

-Dimension: 31.9 x 22 x 33.5 in. (The Met Museum)

  1. Historical context: Bauhaus art affected many aspects of experimental European design, art, and architecture in the 1920s and 1930s, from graphics and paintings to interiors and building (James-Chakraborty and Kriebel). Bauhaus means “construction house” and is distinguished by its unique design approach.
  2. Visual Analysis: The chair was design by the husband and wife designers Lilly Reich and Mies van der Rohe. The chair was made of steel and wickerwork.
  3. Thematic Elements: The chair was designed in 1926 and the following year it was displayed at an exhibition in Stuttgart. The chair was dubbed as “the most beautiful chair construction” by Stefan Wewerka in 1985.
  4. Cultural significance: The Bauhaus movement and the practitioners of Bauhaus believed in the popular phrase “less is more” (MacCarthy). The designs created by the patrons of the movement were functional although the use of expensive and luxurious materials can be seen in the works. However, the simplicity and elegance of the refined designs shadowed the luxurious aspects.
  5. Design Example #4

- Historical movement: Bauhaus

- Title of work: Teapot in silver and ebony

- Artist/designer: Marianne Brandt 

- Date of creation: 1924

- Medium: Nickel silver, ebony

- Design style: Industrial (The Museum of Modern Art)

  1. Historical context: Brandt impressed and inspired László Moholy-Nagy and eventually he opened a metal workshop for her, an avenue from which women were barred. She was a Bauhaus disciple and her works were all associated with the Bauhaus style which became some of the iconic works of the movement (Pandolfo and McDermott). 
  2. Visual Analysis: The teapot is made of silver and the handle is partly made of ebony. Like most of her designs the two teapot designs are practical, modern and abstract in nature (Pandolfo and McDermott).
  3. Thematic Elements: The teapot made from nickel silver was Brandt’s first industrial artwork as a student in Bauhaus. She later revealed that the task was to produce something that satisfied the practical and aesthetical aspects and yet did not burn holes in the pocket, and could be mass produced.
  4. Cultural significance: The Bauhaus movement and its adherents were firm believers of functional yet sophisticated designs (MacCarthy). The supporters of the movement created designs that were utilitarian, despite the use of expensive and opulent materials in the works. The exquisite designs' simplicity and grace, on the other hand, overshadowed the expensive qualities, signifying the contemporary socio-economic culture.

Factual information:

- Historical movement: Bauhaus

-Title of work: Wall Hanging

- Artist/designer: Gunta Stölzl

- Date of creation: 1924

- Medium: silk, wool, metal threads and mercerized cotton.

- Design style: textiles

- Dimensions: 68 1/2 x 42 1/2" (The Museum of Modern Art)

  1. Historical context: After marrying a Bauhaus student who was Jewish Gunta Stölzl was driven away from her country by the Nazis. Together with other Bauhaus peers Heinrich-Otto Hürlimann and Gertrud Preiswerk she established a hand-weaving firm that went on to create numerous popular carpets, wall hangings and woven textiles.
  2. Visual Analysis: the wall hanging is made of neutral earth colored fabrics like silk, wool, and cotton.
  3. Thematic Elements: Gunta Stölzl was an educator at the school of Bauhaus where she established the weaving workshop (Deckers). The workshop later became one of the most high-profile departments of the school. This wall hanging piece demonstrates her personal reflection and the uniqueness of how weaving is an extension of creative expression. The horizontal weaved bands depicts the different methods of introducing fabrics and threads into a woven piece.
  4. Cultural significance: Gunta Stölzl was famous for complicated patchwork patterns, undulating lines of weaves that form a kaleidoscopic squares and mosaics of colored fabrics (Otto and Rössler). Her designs were contemporary, relevant and suitable for the new era of lifestyle. Like all other Bauhaus patrons, she believed in simplicity, but did not compromise on the experiences through rhythm, material, color, proportion and form. Her works were aesthetic, functional and modern to suit the taste of the evolving new society and socioeconomic culture.  

Deckers, Mirjam. "A Study in Sketches. Gunta Stölzl's Early Years in Munich (1914-1919)." Theory and Criticism of Literature and Arts 5.2 (2021): 145-168.

Edwards, Clive, ed. Nineteenth-Century Design: Networks, Mediators and Design. Routledge, 2021.

Ivashko, Yulia, et al. "Ways Of Performance And Preservation Of Monumental Art Works On The Facades Of Architectural Monuments Of The 19th-Early 20th Century." International Journal of Conservation Science 12.4 (2021).

James-Chakraborty, Kathleen, and Sabine T. Kriebel, eds. Bauhaus Effects in Art, Architecture, and Design. Routledge, 2022.

Kirkland Museum. "Dragonfly Lamp By Clara Wolcott Driscoll - Kirkland Museum". Kirkland Museum, https://www.kirklandmuseum.org/collections/work/dragonfly-lamp/.

MacCarthy, Fiona. Walter Gropius: Visionary Founder of the Bauhaus. Faber & Faber, 2019.

Otto, Elizabeth, and Patrick Rössler. Bauhaus women: A global perspective. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019.

Pandolfo, B., and R. McDermott. "Marianne Brandt: designer of icons or ‘real’industrial designer?." Impact! From Bauhaus to Ikea (2019).

Pandolfo, Berto, and Ruth McDermott. "Out of the Shadows: The Work of Marianne Brandt at Ruppelwerk." Journal of Design Thinking (2022).

Penick, Monica, Christopher Long, and Harry Ransom Center, eds. The rise of everyday design: The arts and crafts movement in Britain and America. Yale University Press, 2019.

The Brooklyn Refinery. "May Morris". Thebrooklynrefinery.Com, 2018, https://thebrooklynrefinery.com/may-morris/.

The Met Museum. ""MR" Armchair 1927". Metmuseum.Org, 2022, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/482117.

The Museum of Modern Art. "Gunta Stölzl. Wall Hanging. 1924 | Moma". The Museum Of Modern Art, 2022, https://www.moma.org/collection/works/1997.

The Museum of Modern Art. "Marianne Brandt. Teapot. 1924 | Moma". The Museum Of Modern Art, 2022, https://www.moma.org/collection/works/2438.

Warren, Richard. Art Nouveau and the Classical Tradition. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017.

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